THE D.I.Y. VAN CONVERSION
EZ-Cool Heat & Sound Insulation: 4 rolls (4’ x 25’) $210 -- 3 is enough
3M Hi-Strength 90 Spray Adhesive (3 cans) $50
After much web research, I chose EZ-Cool, a
1/4“ layer of foil-covered foam that had a solid
6 "R rating" – whatever that is – and was also
billed as a “sound deadener.”
If you’ve ever ridden around in a
bare-walled cargo van, you know how noisy it is
when those flat sheet metal walls tremble and wobble.
There were a
lot of other options out there, including
spray foam in every nook and cranny.
Well, maybe not the crannies. That stuff
was pricey as hell, though, and professional
installation was "recommended." Well,
that ruled it out right there.
I wanted to
do everything myself. Partly, that was
for satisfaction, partly for thrift, and maybe
even a little for ego. But, on the
practical side, if I did every step myself, I
know how to deal with it if/when things go
wrong somewhere down the line.
The insulation came in 4-foot-wide rolls, 25 feet long, so 100 square feet per roll. I did some cipherin' and figgered the ceiling was about 6' x 12', so that was 72 sq.ft. The floor would be about the same, so there as almost 150 already. Maxx's floor was a thin rubber mat glued to the metal floor. That was going to need plywood, but I'd put a layer of insulation down first. It would help some with road heat -- that asphalt kicks it back up pretty good -- and it would also prevent the wood from rattling.
the walls was tricky because I was not going
to put the EZ-Cool on every section. The
bottom sections would get it, and the very top
recesses would too. The mid-to-upper
sections were zoned for windows, though I
wasn't exactly sure how many or how
soon. I had covered those spaces with
some tropical vegetation print-outs that I did
on this old roll of adhesive vinyl that we had
leaning in the back corner for about 9
years. I took some photos on all the
palms and such around my yard, printed them on
that vinyl, and stuck them to the walls as
temporary decor. They actually looked
damn cool! With a quick glance, you
could honestly believe that the van had backed
into a tight spot amid a thicket of palms.
I cut the EZ-Cool into strips to fit between Maxx’s ribs, then sprayed both it and the metal with the 3M-90 that a video recommended. That glue stuff is weird-looking stuff. It lands on the surface like webbing, almost like Silly String. It sticks really well, though!
I left the ribs bare because I’ll be attaching the ceiling and upper cabinets to them. Some vangabonds make sure to cover every inch of metal with foam or foil or both. Insulation is only of so-so importance to me, though; it’s more for keeping warm air inside when you’re in cold places. As one of the articles that I read said, on a hot day, a van is just gonna get hot. If I had an AC unit to run in back, I might be thinking differently, but if this thin coat of foil reduces the radiant heat a little, that’s a plus.
I used a little more than two of the four rolls to do the ceiling and walls. The floor would use up the third roll. It DEFINITELY makes the van quieter on the road! I might use the fourth roll to add a second layer when I do the wood ceiling.
What would I do differently? I'd cover up those beams after all. They are like the iron radiators we used to have in my parents' house when I was a little kid. The heat on the flat panels does get blocked by the EZ-Cool, but I think it just redirects itself to the beams and ribs. You can lay your hand comfortably on the silver foil, but you can singe your flesh if you try to hold onto those ribs. On a hot day, a van is gonna get hot, yes, but if it starts to intrude on my comfort at 10 AM instead of 8:30, that'll be a big plus.